Record Under Threat At Grafton

By Jeff Collerson
"If Barefoot Zulu gets a clear run he will break the track record,'' is the confident prediction from trainer Steve Keep ahead of the July 17 final of the 450m Grafton Maiden Classic.

After clocking record time of 24.87 in a trial Barefoot Zulu won his heat last Sunday night in 25.06, just .05sec outside Cash View's official record.

"Barefoot Zulu got held up slightly during his heat win so can go a bit quicker,'' Keep said.

"Box eight would have been perfect but I'm happy with box six in the final because he will go around his rivals.

"Barefoot Zulu is a litter brother to Barefoot Dave, who has won three races at Wentworth Park, and is owned by Simone Kellermayer and Johnny Thompson.

"They bought him as a pup from breeder Mitch Northfield and they reared him.

"Barefoot Zulu is a special animal, his middle sections and run home times are incredible, they just don't run the sort of times he has been clocking.''

Keep believes Nangar Lady will be the hardest to beat as she has drawn box one and "went with Barefoot Zulu early" before finishing second, beaten over seven lengths.

Nangar Lady is trained by Dennis Barnes and it would hardly be a Grafton winter carnival Maiden Final without the famed western districts trainer being represented.

This year Barnes' finalists are Nangar Lady and Southpaw McGraw, along with first reserve Major McGraw.

Barnes won the time honoured event in 2016 with Nangar Ranger, in 2017 with Nangar Warrior and with Nangar Rocket in 2022.

Barnes' son-in-law Chris Spratt kept things in the family when he trained last year's winner Heidi McGraw.

NSW's most successful owner-breeder Marty Hallinan always reckoned the late John Finn had an astonishing "eye" for a quality greyhound, and it seems his widow Minnie Finn has inherited that talent.

When John Finn passed away, Marty recalled: "I had a speedy but only average race bitch called Zipping Dharma, but John told me to breed with her because he wanted to get any pup she produced.

"I would not have bred with her but took John's tip and when mated with Zipping Garth she threw Zipping Orlando, who has won $832,000 prizemoney for me!"

Minnie trains Saturday's impressive Wentworth Park winner Great Flash for another successful owner-breeder Noelene Holloway, and wanted that dog almost from the day he was born.

"Noelene had a litter by Aussie Infrared from Esther's Diva, whelped in February, 2022, and when I saw them I asked her if I could buy the black dog pup,'' Finn recalled.

"She didn't want to sell but promised me that if this youngster broke in well I could train him for her.

"He was far from impressive when being educated but I still wanted to give him a go and true to her word, Noelene handed him over to me.''

Great Flash's win on Saturday was his 18th and his fifth WP victory, taking his earnings to nearly $69,000.

The dog keeps improving because on Saturday he wanted to get wide from box two and literally pushed National Derby winner History's Coming out of his way.

Great Flash held the lead at the pen and despite the early bumping duel with History's Coming, held on to win comfortably.

Emgrand Centre and Major Ando, who have won 28 races, are to do their future racing in Townsville.

Their owner-trainer Luke Azzopardi said: "The grader has caught up with them here.

"Emgrand Centre has been running 29.80 and 29.90 at Wentworth Park but can't win a race, the competition is that tough.

"They will do really well up north and these days you have to be prepared to send dogs to other trainers while they are still going well enough to win plenty of races.

"There is a promising litter of 15 month old puppies I have just educated and needed to make room for them too.''